Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Grey-crowned Ground-sparrow (Melozone occipitalis)


French: Tohi à calotte grise German: Gelbnacken-Grundammer Spanish: Toquí coronigrís
Other common names: Salvin’s Ground-sparrow

Pyrgisoma occipitale


, 1878,

Volcán de Fuego, Guatemala


Hitherto treated as conspecific with M. leucotis, but differs in its dull grey (sometimes black-lined) crown-stripe (3); broader, longer yellow postocular eye-line (2); black-centred white vs black upper breast (3); more chestnut tone to upperparts and tail (ns[1]); possibly slightly larger size (unmeasured). Monotypic.


Pacific coast of S Mexico (Chiapas), Guatemala and El Salvador (E to Volcán San Vicente).

Descriptive notes

18–19 cm. Adult has face and throat black with whitish lores and broken eyering, grey median crown-stripe within otherwise black crown, white ear-coverts spot, broad yellow... read more


Not well described. In duet a high, thin but slightly gruff-sounding “ssyi si ssyi ssyi ssyi-ssyi... read more


Humid to semi-humid semi-deciduous forest, adjacent second growth and plantations; 600–1800 m.

Food and feeding

Diet presumably insects and seeds. Forages on and near ground. Hops on ground, frequently flicking its tail. Gleans arthropods from... read more


Very few data, but a nest found in Chiapas (S Mexico) in third week of May was similar to that of M. leucotis, being lined with... read more



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally fairly common. Uncommon in El Salvador, where much of its habitat has been destroyed.

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Grey-crowned Ground-sparrow (Melozone occipitalis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 February 2020).